BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Parking and seats at Town Hall were at a premium Tuesday night, Jan 10, as retired and active police officers from Union County, friends and family gathered to see one new police officer join the force and two others receive promotions.
Police Chief John DiPasquale spoke glowingly of the three officers who each took the oath of office for their new position: Lieutenant Ernie Schmidt, Sergeant Michael Nelson and Probationary Patrolman Daniel Schaefer. Previously, Schmidt and Nelson had been named "acting" Lieutenant and Sergeant, respectively, they now carry the full rank.
Mayor Robert Woodruff administered the oath of office to each man, as family members stood by in support. As each man finished his oath and shook hands with the mayor, the room erupted in applause.
Schaefer is a 2010 graduate of Voorhees High School. He graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2014 from Monmouth University. He interned with the Aberdeen Police Department. He earned a spot in the fall 2016 class Essex County Police Academy as an Alternate Route candidate and graduated in December 2016. There was an opening in the Berkeley Heights Department and "we jumped on it here because Danny fit in well ...he absolutely stood out" from other well qualified candidates, the Chief said.
Schaefer's father Retired Captain Thomas P. Schaefer spent 28 years in the Berkeley Heights Police Department. He retired on July 1, 2015.
Nelson joined the Department in 1999. A lifelong resident of Berkeley Heights, he graduated from Union County College and Kean College. He has been a member of the patrol division since joining the department and has trained many of the current members of the department. Nelson is an original member of the department's Honor Guard. He has served as a member of the Union County Emergency Response Team since 2004 and was acting supervisor in 2004 and, again, in most of 2016. He was named acting sergeant in September 2016, where he "has done a fantastic job...The thing that sets Mike apart is his love and commitment to Berkeley Heights," said DiPasquale.
Schmidt, a 1991 graduate of New Providence High School, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University. He was hired by the Berkeley Heights Police Department in 1997, attended the John H. Stamler Police Academy and served as a Patrolman until his promotion to sergeant in 2008. In 2015 he was named administrative sergeant and supervised the community policing unit. He served on the Union County SWAT Team for 18 years and in 2014 was designated Union County Range Master by the Union County Prosecutor. "He is a guy I can always rely on," said DiPasquale.
After the the three officers were sworn in, DiPasquale congratulated the three men and their families and said, "good luck and we look forward to working together."
Woodruff also congratulated the officers and thanked "Our Chief. John has done a tremendous job since taking over ... He really works very, very hard to get new young officers here. It means a lot to him...congratulations to the entire department and for everything you do for this town."